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The Welsh Poppy Meconopsis Cambrica is the County flower of Merioneth (Merionnydd).  It is a perennial flowering plant in the poppy family Papaveraceae. The Welsh Poppy can be seen growing beautifully throughout Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

The bushy plants of the Welsh poppy produce a thick clump of pretty, lacy foliage which is attractive in itself, even before the fragile, dancing flower heads begin to appear in June. The central pistil and stamens are prominent and their matt texture make an interesting contrast with the shiny petals surrounding them, attracting many pollinating bees and insects. Colour varies from light lemon yellow to a deep orange.

Carl Linnaeus, the famous botanist and taxonomist (responsible for classification and naming of species), identified the plant as a poppy in 1753, naming it Papaver cambrica. Cambria is the Latin name for Wales, very similar to the Welsh name for our country, Cymru.

However, by 1814 further study led to this yellow poppy being reclassified by the French taxonomist, Louis Viguier as a new species, Meconopsis cambrica, (Mekon meaning ‘poppy’ in Greek). He thought it was related to the blue Himalayan poppy.

Recently, more rigorous research into DNA has led a team of European scientists to revert to the Linnaean conclusion. In 2012 The Daily Telegraph published a report on these new findings by Ken Thompson (plant biologist) in which he states that the Welsh Poppy is probably a Papaver after all and possibly not related to its Asiatic cousins, the Meconopsis in any way.

The Welsh poppy is happy almost anywhere, although it prefers well-drained soil. It is very happy in a shady corner and so works well in brightening up a darker area of your garden. It spreads freely in many gardens and is often found on verges and in walls or steps as an escapee.

Regular dead-heading allows prolonged flowering right into the end of summer and early autumn. Although they are perennial, the plants don’t live very long. However, they self-seed very effectively. If you want to cultivate them, it’s best to sow seed in pots (see specialist advice for the best way of doing this). Then let the mature plants spread seed into the surrounding earth. Next season you will have seedlings come up which will be best left to grow on without transplanting as the tap roots are fragile and do not much like to be dug up and moved. They will also be stronger than their pot-grown parents.

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